Episode Festival on Vietnamese island Phú Quốc

It was that time again, the new year was just around the corner. This time we wanted to make New Year’s Eve something special, after the last New Year’s Eve in Playa del Carmen was really bad. Therefore, we planned already in the middle of the year where to go this time on New Year’s Eve.

The location of the Epizode Festival 

The location is very lovingly prepared, with all kinds of sculptures and art. All the buildings like bars and stages look like something out of a movie, organic but still very modern and artistic. A place like something out of a picture book. The event is located directly on the sea, so you walk most of the time through the sand. The buildings from the site are largely made of bamboo. 

Laser Show on the Main Stage

The Frisbee stage is a side stage, but the stage where there is actually always something going on. It was the only stage where there was a program on New Year’s Day, for example.  This is also where the Sundowner is always celebrated.

The second stage named Main is the main stage. It is made of concrete and has numerous light installations and a laser show. This stage also holds the most people and is the location for the big evening events. 

The third stage named Eggs is relatively small. It consists of a bamboo wall and a jockey desk. People can party in front of it, and the stage also usually only has acts at late hours.

View of the Main Stage lighting equipment

Afternoon program

The afternoon program sounded a bit bigger in the announcement than it actually was. There was, for example, yoga or body painting. However, the space at the yoga was severely limited by the location. From the rest of the afternoon program, we have not noticed anything. Probably there are better and worse days. The afternoon program at the Epizode Festival is free.

View of the Yoga Program

New Year’s Eve at the Epizode

The New Year’s Eve party from 2019 to 2020 was disappointing on the Epizode. The New Year’s Eve was not decorated, there were no special promotions and the only thing at night that indicated the New Year was coming were exactly five second countdowns in the light installations. There was no acoustic turn of the year or anything like that. The light show became more elaborate after midnight, but that didn’t really seem to be related to the turn of the year.  Instead, there was such a crowd around the main stage that we lost sight of each other just at midnight. 

Since Vietnam does not ring in the turn of the year until the end of January, the western turn of the year on Epizode therefore passed us by largely unnoticed. We ourselves have not really bothered, because we generally do not like to celebrate New Year’s Eve. However, who drives to the Epizode with the hope to experience the New Year’s Eve party of his life, which is herewith a little forewarned.

View of the stage Frisbee during the day.

mood

The mood at the Epizode fluctuated significantly between the days and also within the days.In the afternoon, there is rather little going on at the site. The visitors who are there, make photos with the sculptures, lie on the beach, meditate or enjoy the sun. It goes something alternative “hippy-like”. The mood is relaxed, but everyone keeps to themselves. 

At sunset, the first DJs put on. Then the first party people come to dance at the small stage. But even then there is not really much going on. The real party begins only in the late evening, when the main acts on the main stage. But even then the crowd tends to gather there and on the rest of the area you can still sit around and relax. Directly in front of the stage (or stages), however, it then becomes very crowded. 

Tickets

There are three types of tickets for one day, three days or the complete festival period. 

According to your ticket you will receive a wristband with transponder with which you come through the entrance. This wristband will also serve as a payment system on the premises. 

The one-day ticket allows 24h access to the festival site from activation. The three-day ticket allows access for 72h – that means you have to go to the festival for three days in a row and cannot split the period. 

Tickets are significantly cheaper in the first presale. 

However, there is still a little trick with which you have a little more of the festival at the one and three-day ticket. Apparently, only at the entrance to the site is checked whether the ticket is still valid. Your wristband will be scanned again when you leave the grounds, but there will be no error message if it is already not valid at that point. However, we have only tested an overdraft of 2h. Presumably, however, you can party through another complete evening without any problems as long as you enter the festival area within the validity of your ticket. 

Admission control at the festival

Admission control at Epizode is a thing of its own. The security staff is unfriendly and apparently not (or very poorly) trained. Partly random checks are made, but so unsystematically with untraceable emphases that it is very doubtful that the control is more than a deterrent. 

For example, what we had problems with every time at the entrance was our reusable drinking bottle, which you are explicitly allowed to take with you and fill up at water dispensers. However, what did not cause any problems was the content of Martina’s handbag, because at all bag checks the side pocket was overlooked. Since she had forgotten to clear out the bag in advance, it still contained a complete first aid kit, including scissors. For this, Max’s purse was searched very closely several times. 

However, anyone relying on pills or medical equipment during the festival should check with the organizer in advance. One attendee who relied on a medical breathing tube complained online that his entire sterile kit was picked apart. 

Every time he enters or leaves the premises, the wristband chip must be scanned at a terminal. 

Money and payment 

One token costs 50,000 VND, which is about 2€. In addition, the activation costs 1 token at the first recharge. Therefore, for 1 million VDN you get 19 tokens. 

Unneeded tokens can be cashed out again at the end, but this costs 2 tokens penalty fee. 

Drinks

The cocktails aren’t really mixed very well, though there were noticeable differences between bartenders here. 

Furthermore, there is a free drinking water dispenser on the premises, where you can fill up your cup or reusable bottle. However, long lines often form in front of the dispenser and it is sometimes not refilled for a long time when it is empty. 

Food 

There are a few options for food at the festival, however the prices for food are comparatively expensive.A full meal costs about 6 tokens.If you leave the grounds and go / drive to a restaurant there are dinners starting at about 3€-5€. 

We have not tested the food at the site therefore.  In the VIP area there is a buffet on New Year’s Eve. 

Epizode and the environment

If only the island was as clean as the festival grounds…

Disposable plastic is not found at all on the Epizode. Likewise, it is forbidden to bring disposable bottles onto the grounds. Reusable bottles, on the other hand, are explicitly allowed. They can be refilled at a water dispenser even free of charge with water. Drinks are available in reusable cups with deposit, as described before, or in aluminum cans, which are collected separately from the rest of the garbage.  Many of the buildings and artworks on the grounds are made of bamboo and natural materials. 

All in all, Epizode is therefore a festival from which many other festivals in the area of waste avoidance can still gladly take a leaf out of the book. 

Our conclusion: is it worth a visit to Epizode? 

Personally, I found the festival interesting but somewhat disappointing. It was my first big festival and I had imagined it a bit more “bombastic”. Especially the first January was more than disappointing for me. Also the afternoon program sounded more extensive in the advertising. Instead, the mood on the stages, where then was often quite a crowd. Also the festival-goers were a bit too keen to be seen, not necessarily to party. But the location is great and very nicely prepared. In addition, I find it super, that extremely on waste avoidance is paid attention.

I found the festival itself not bad but also not good. The location is of course a real highlight in the cold winter months. When do you ever have the opportunity to dance with sand between your toes, to electronic dance music, into the new year. However, I found it very unfortunate that the 3 day tickets must be used up within 72 hours. So the 01.01. was of course a very quiet day and thus actually also a lost day. The music was very good, not too main stream but also not too strange.

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